Divorced Parents Are Clashing Over COVID-19 Vaccines

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July 12, 2021 -- Now that the COVID-19 vaccines are available for children ages 12 and older, some divorced parents are facing a challenge: What to do when one parent wants the kids to get the COVID-19 vaccine and the other parent doesn’t.

This is the situation facing Michelle Roy-Augustin*, a divorced mom of two sons, ages 12 and 10, who lives in Los Angeles. While her ex-wife wants their 12-year-old-son to get vaccinated right away, Roy-Augustin would rather wait, as some teenagers, albeit rarely, have had heart inflammation after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to the CDC.

“I’d prefer to wait for there to be a larger sample size of kids getting the vaccine to see if there any other problems,” says Roy-Augustin. She says that she and her ex-wife are vaccinated and that the two have never disagreed about any of the other vaccinations their sons have received throughout their childhood.

“This is the first time we’ve disagreed about something like this. We’ve been remarkably on the same page with most of our co-parenting decisions -- until now.”

Ask divorce attorneys, and they’ll tell you that they’ve litigated plenty of vaccine issues between ex-spouses lately. But the law is clear: Generally speaking, if the parents aren’t divorced or living under an order, either parent can give consent for a child to be vaccinated, says Jennifer S. Hargrave, a divorce attorney at Hargrave Family Law in Dallas.

“However, once the parents separate and are living under a parenting order [such as a divorce decree], the order will govern which parent has the rights to de...

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